Aspirin - things you need to know

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Thanks to media hype, over 50 million people in North America are regular aspirin users and this figure is rising rapidly. Aside from its widely recognized use as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent, aspirin has become increasingly popular with the medical profession for a growing list of other maladies. The American Heart Association recommends aspirin for the prevention and treatment of heart disease and stroke, while the American College of Chest Physicians recommends it for any of the risk factors for coronary artery disease including obesity, diabetes, elevated LDL-cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and a family history of heart disease. Some scientists would even argue for using aspirin as a weight loss remedy used in conjunction with caffeine and ephedra to “burn fat.” False hope for either the prevention or treatment of cancer, arthritis, tension headaches and seemingly every human discomfort is offered by proponents of daily aspirin use.

The current aspirin fad is fueled by the conclusions of some spectacular studies. For example, peripheral vascular disease (blockages of arteries in the arms or legs) has been shown to respond to aspirin therapy in one study with an 85% reduction in the need for surgery. Studies also show that aspirin prevents new heart attacks in heart attack survivors while angina sufferers have fewer heart attacks and increased survival. Aspirin use has been shown to dramatically decrease the need for coronary bypass surgery as well as angioplasty. The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine even published an American Cancer Society sponsored study which concluded that those who took aspirin 16 or more times each month were 40% less likely to die from colon cancer than those who took no aspirin at all. Listen to enough doctors and you will soon walk away believing that the great majority of the human race suffers from an aspirin deficiency.
Is there a down side to this success story? The answer lies in the many well-documented — but poorly reported — side effects of the drug, both short and long term.
ASPIRIN SIDE EFFECTS • Bleeding Gastrointestinal Irritation (heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease) • Increased gastric permeability and altered immunity • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage (ulcers): A Searle news release noted that GI complications caused by NSAIDs remain one of the most prevalent drug toxicities in the nation — leading to approximately 76,000 hospitalizations and 7,600 deaths annually — a mortality rate comparable to that of asthma, cervical cancer, or melanoma (skin cancer). • Hemorrhagic stroke: heavy doses of 325-milligram adult aspirin (for example 15 or more tablets a week), can double the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Older women with high blood pressure, taking large doses of aspirin, can triple their risk of hemorrhagic stroke; in elderly patients with atrial fibrillation, the benefit of prophylactic aspirin to prevent strokes is unproven. • Aspirin can prolong pregnancy and childbirth and lead to bleeding in both baby and mother. • Susceptible regular aspirin or acetaminophen users are two to three times more likely to have the beginning stages of chronic kidney failure, compared with individuals who did not use these painkillers on a regular basis. About 15% of the people on dialysis today are there as a result of the damage that Tylenol and/or aspirin did to their kidneys. • Both aspirin and acetaminophen may also be associated with diverticular disease of the colon. • Asthma • People who are taking aspirin in combination with the blood-pressure-lowering ACE inhibitor drugs after angioplasty may be at risk for a dangerous drug interaction and a three-fold increase in risk of death. • Prolonged aspirin use may raise risks for cataracts; the long-term (more than 10 years) use of aspirin is associated with a 44% higher increase of posterior subcapsular cataracts, compared with nonusers or short-term users of the drug. Posterior subcapsular cataracts are the most common and most disabling form of cataract. This aspirin-related risk is larger among younger (under 65 years of age) individuals compared with older subjects. (Ophthalmology 1998; 105:1751-1758). • Chronic rhinitis and nasal polyps: aspirin sensitivity sinusitis may cause long-term facial pain, headaches and a loss of smell. • Hives (urticaria) • Hyperactivity • Reye’s Syndrome in children; aspirin is the leading cause of poisoning in young children. • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) • Hearing loss • Vertigo • Mental confusion • Drowsiness • Excessive sweating and thirst • Inhibition of cartilage repair and accelerated cartilage destruction
Aspirin prevents blood clotting factors called platelets from sticking to each other. It does so by blocking a platelet enzyme called cyclooxygenase. Aspirin, by inhibiting cyclooxygenase, can decrease the production of lipid peroxides (free radicals) and thromboxane, a powerful vasoconstrictor. This enzyme inhibition lasts for the lifetime of the platelet, which is approximately 10 days. Aspirin suppresses the activity of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body known as the PGE2 family of prostaglandins. It thus indirectly increases the activity of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins of the PGE1 family.

There are some researchers and clinicians who have been able to demonstrate a direct link between the presence of fungi in the body and cardiovascular disease of all kinds. This is known as the “fungal mycotoxin etiology of atherosclerosis” and has been promoted by Dr. Costantini and other researchers working for the World Health Organization. According to these doctors, aspirin is an antifungal drug which can go a long way towards offsetting the negative effects of fungi and their mycotoxins. They believe that it is this antifungal property of aspirin which prevents heart disease, stroke and cancer — diseases all suspected to have a fungal mycotoxin etiology. Dandruff, a scalp condition caused by fungi, often responds well to shampoos containing aspirin or salicylate derivatives.
If one continues to eat a lot of sugar, refined foods, saturated fat (e.g. red meat, fried foods, dairy products, etc.), does not exercise, smokes cigarettes and drinks alcohol to excess, neither aspirin nor any of the following alternatives can be guaranteed to do much good.

1) GLA (gamma linolenic acid) found in plants like borage, black currant seed and evening primrose has been shown to increase the activity of the PGE1 family, producing an anti-inflammatory effect similar to aspirin. Flax seed (edible linseed oil) does not contain GLA, but is rich in linoleic acid, which can be converted to GLA in the body to produce these same anti-inflammatory effects. GLA has been documented to lower serum cholesterol, reverse some cases of obesity, clear eczema, lower blood pressure, control allergies, improve autoimmune disease and prevent arthritis.

2) Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) in high doses retards blood clotting. Caution should be exercised if one is using both aspirin and vitamin E (or blood thinners like coumadin with vitamin E) because the combinations have a synergistic effect. Studies indicate that supplementation of as little as 200 IU daily in men can reduce the risk of a heart attack by 46%; in women the risk reduction is 26%. Whether natural source or synthetic source, all forms supply the body with at least some vitamin E activity. The natural forms of vitamin E are d-alpha-tocopherol, d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, d-alpha-tocopheryl succinate and mixed tocopherols. The synthetic forms are dl-alpha-tocopherol, dl-alpha-tocopheryl acetate or dl-alpha-tocopheryl succinate.

Studies indicate that the most biologically active are the esterified natural forms — d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate and d-alpha-tocopheryl succinate. Both have been found to provide full antioxidant activity in the body and are the ones recommended by the top authorities on vitamin E at the Shute Institute and Medical Clinic in London, Ontario.

Recent studies indicate that high levels of stored iron in the body (ferritin) are associated with a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes. High dose vitamin E supplements can interfere with iron absorption. If you have been prescribed iron to correct iron deficiency, take your iron supplement about 12 hours apart from vitamin E. Iron absorption is enhanced by sufficient acid in the stomach. Iron destroys vitamin E in the body.

3) Garlic is probably the best known herb that lowers cholesterol (by up to 10%) and triglycerides (by up to 13%) while raising “good” HDL-cholesterol (by up to 31%). Garlic prevents thrombus formation and lowers blood pressure. It prevents platelet stickiness and has natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic properties. Onions also have these effects but are not as profound as garlic.

4) Magnesium has anticoagulant properties which, when combined with vitamin E, can produce significant blood clotting reduction. In practice it is always wise to balance magnesium intake with both calcium and potassium.

5) Omega-3-EPA oils reduce platelet stickiness. Good dietary sources include flax seed oil, rice bran oil, trout, mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, cod, halibut and shark.

6) Policosanol, an extract made from the wax of sugar cane can lower LDL cholesterol while increasing good HDL cholesterol. Policosanol reduces inflammation and inhibits abnormal platelet aggregation which promotes arterial blood clotting.

7) Gingko biloba extract from the oldest surviving tree species on earth (dating back over 300 million years) contains flavonoids and terpenoids, which inhibit or prevent blood clot formation. Ginkgo also has potent antioxidant properties and may benefit numerous circulatory problems including those associated with impotence.

8) Bromelain is a proteolytic enzyme (helps digest protein) which is not only anti-inflammatory in its effects, but prevents excessive coagulation of the blood by clearing undigested fibrin and other harmful proteins in the bloodstream.
ALTERNATIVE HERBAL PAIN REMEDIES • Bromelain • Cloves (especially useful for toothaches) • Curcumin • Devil’s claw root powder • D,L-Phenylalanine • Echinacea (in very high dosages, well above those which control infections, echinacea is effective, especially for toothaches) • Feverfew • Ginger root • Licorice root • Proteolytic pancreatic digestive enzymes • Wood Betony • Valerian
Many of these nutrients are sold in combination form at health food stores. It may, therefore, not be necessary to take large numbers of capsules or tablets. A naturopath or medical doctor familiar with these remedies can recommend specific dosages. The world’s leading medical journals are increasingly reporting that diet and lifestyle changes by themselves can reverse hardening of the arteries and its complications.
Despite all the rave reports about aspirin, there are too many worrisome drawbacks as well: natural aspirin alternatives are hundreds of times safer. Discuss this issue with your health care practitioner and use his or her experience and expertise to guide you with an individualized health program.
REFERENCES • Archives of Family Medicine 1998;7:255-260, 262-263 Majority of Americans Unaware or Unconcerned About Hidden Dangers Caused by Common Pain Relievers (Searle news release March 19, 1998) • Are Common Pain Relievers Putting You at Risk for Stomach Ulcers? The American Gastroenterological Association and Searle Team Up to Launch National NSAID Risk Screening and Education Campaign (Searle news release, March 19, 1998). Visit the website at • Costantini, A.V., Wieland, H., and Qvick, Lars I. Fungalbionics, The Fungal/Mycotoxin Etiology of Human Disease, Vol. 1 Atherosclerosis & Vol. II Cancer. Freiberg, Germany:Johann Friedrich Oberlin Verlag, 1994. Available in Canada from Fungal/Mycotoxin Conference, 12 Sifton Place, Brampton, Ont. L6Y 2N8; 905-450-0445; FAX:905-450-0559. • Erasmus, Udo. Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, Canada:Alive, 1993. • Goldstrich, Joe D. The Cardiologist’s Painless Prescription for a Healthy Heart and a Longer Life. Dallas:9-HEART-9 Publishing, 1994. • Haas, Elson M. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. The Complete Guide to Diet & Nutritional Medicine. Berkeley, California:Celestial Arts, 1992. • Pizzorno, Joseph E. Jr. and Murray, Michael T. A Textbook of Natural Medicine, John Bastyr College Publications, Seattle, Washington, 1989. • Pizzorno, Joseph E. jr. and Murray, Michael T. An Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Prima Publishing:Rocklin, California, 1991. • Rona, Zoltan P. and Martin, Jeanne Marie. Return to the Joy of Health, Vancouver: Alive Books, 1995. • Sharon, Michael. Complete Nutrition. How to Live in Total Health. London, England: PRION, 1989. • Werbach,Melvyn R.and Murray, Michael T. Botanical Influences on Illness. Tarzana, California:Third Line Press, 1994.

There's more

For people who use various forms of aspirin, such as BC Powder, Bayer brand, Excedrin, and Advil, they are risking their health for short term pain relief. Yes, you may obtain the illusion of pain relief, but do you know how the various aspirins work against pain? ANSWER: By deadening your nerves! Long term aspirin use is sure to corrode your nerves and entire nervous system leading to certain central nervous system pathologies such as Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease, and even stroke.

 Aspirin breaks down or converts into ascetic acid inside the body and eats up red blood cells, just like white distilled vinegar does. Therefore, aspirin use pollutes the blood which is the essence of life. In addition to polluting and eating up the blood, aspirin greatly thins the blood. Many people take aspirin daily as a blood thinner. These people's arteries are so clogged, rather than cleansing the arteries in order to improve or enhance blood flow, doctors unwisely prescribe aspirin to thin the blood which is very dangerous because lack of blood equals lack of oxygen flow, and lack of oxygen flow to the brain will undoubtedly result in stroke. The herb gingko biloba is a much better and safer medicinal and alternative to aspirin as it is a mild blood thinner, but unlike aspirin, it greatly enhances oxygen flow throughout the body.

 Aspirin use also causes intestinal and stomach ulcers. Aspirin burns a hole through the lining of the intestines and the stomach causing internal wounds (ulcers) and bleeding. Drinking cabbage juice is the best remedy for this problem. Aloe vera juice will also help to heal ulcers.

 Females who take Midol drug for menstrual-related pain and cramps would do much better to take the herbs feverfew, cramp bark, and black haw. A liquid calcium supplement will greatly reduce menstrual-related pain. Calcium is natureís nervine and tranquilizer. Serious suffers of headaches, especially migraines, would do well to use the herbs aspirin was originally made from. Aspirin was originally made from herbs rich in the alkaloid salicin which converts into salicyclic acid inside the body, which has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and thereby neutralizes pain.

 Herbs that contain amounts of salicin include meadowsweet, white willow bark, red willow bark, black willow bark, woodruffî, balm of gilead, and wintergreen.

 The herbs feverfew, peppermint, and wood betony should or can be added to the herbs above to create a natural pain relieving tea that can be drunk throughout the day and as much as you like in order to naturally eradicate a headache. Please know that a headache is an acid condition and alkaline substances can heal/cure and prevent headaches. Herbs are alkaline substances.

 Lastly, long-term aspirin use will greatly pollute and eventually degenerate the liver, a very important cleansing agent and organ. People with red eyes have very toxic livers. Liver toxicity manifests in the white of the eyes. The herbs milk thistle seed, dandelion, boldo, goldenseal, tumeric, Oregon grape, artichoke, blue flag, gentian root, and barberry will heal, repair, and cleanse the liver. Carbon (activated charcoal) will also greatly help to cleanse the liver.

 More important than relieving pain, a person should attempt to discover the root cause of pain, for prevention is better than remedy. Pain is just a sensor that lets you know that something is wrong in or with the body. Pain is a question that seeks an answer.

 Additional articles by Djehuty available at

More Science Showing Aspirin's Dismal Failure

In 2004, Dr. Cleland published the results of a new study (Warfarin/Aspirin Study in Heart Failure, or WASH) in the American Heart Journal in which he investigated antithrombotic strategies in 279 patients with heart failure. He found that the patients who received aspirin treatment actually showed the worst cardiac outcomes, especially worsening heart failure. Dr. Cleland concluded there was "no evidence that aspirin is effective or safe in patients with heart failure."

Then in 2010, another study looked into whether or not patients taking aspirin before an acute coronary syndrome (ACS) were at higher risk of recurrent problems or mortality. ACS is a term used for any condition brought on by sudden, reduced blood flow to the heart, such as a heart attack or unstable angina. The study found that patients who were taking aspirin showed a higher risk for recurrent heart attack and associated heart problems.

Thus far, aspirin's performance is quite unimpressive. But what about aspirin's benefits specifically for women? As it turns out, aspirin fares no better with women.

In 2005, Harvard conducted a study to investigate whether or not low-dose aspirin offered cardiovascular benefits for women. They followed nearly 40,000 healthy women for a full 10 years. Again, the results did not show any heart benefit from aspirin therapy; researchers concluded aspirin did NOT lower the risk of heart attack or death from cardiovascular causes among women.

Aspirin Never Proven Safe or Effective for Diabetics

Cardiovascular disease is a serious concern if you have diabetes, and a number of studies have set out to determine whether aspirin can offer a degree of protection. Three studies have shown the benefits to be either inconclusive, or nonexistent.

1.    In 2009, a study in the British Medical Journal found no clear evidence that aspirin is effective in preventing cardiovascular events in people with diabetes. Results differed between men and women, but overall, they found no clear benefit and called for more studies on aspirin's toxicity.

2.    Also in 2009, a Swedish study examined the effects of aspirin therapy in diabetic patients. Researchers found no clear benefit that aspirin is beneficial for diabetics but did note that it can increase the risk for serious bleeding in some of them. They stated that the current guidelines for aspirin therapy should be revised until further study is done.

3.    In 2010, a meta-analysis in the U.K. examined six trials consisting of 7374 diabetic patients, comparing the relative cardiac risks for aspirin users and non-users. They concluded, as did the other researchers, that aspirin did not reduce heart attack risk for diabetic individuals.

It's pretty clear that aspirin isn't all that it's cracked up to be when it comes to preventing you from having a heart attack. But is it doing any harm? Well, as it turns out, the answer is yes—in a number of possible ways.

Aspirin Increases Your Risk of Hemorrhage, GI Damage, and Several Other Problems

Routine use of aspirin has been associated with the following problems:

·         Bleeding, especially in the gastrointestinal tract

·         Duodenal ulcers, GI damage, and diverticular disease

·         Increased risk of ER/PR-negative breast cancer in women

·         Increased risk of kidney failure

·         Cataracts, hearing Lossand tinnitus

In fact, there are studies listed on Greenmedinfo showing aspirin's connection with 51 different diseases! The most well established side effect of aspirin is bleeding, which results from aspirin's interference with your platelets—the blood cells that allow your blood to clot. According to one scientific articlei, long-term low-dose aspirin therapy may DOUBLE your risk for gastrointestinal bleeding.

You can certainly understand how a bleed is possible, given what is known about the effects aspirin has on your GI tract.

For example, a study done earlier this year investigated the effects of low-dose aspirin on the gastrointestinal tracts of healthy volunteers. After only two weeks, the group receiving aspirin showed "small bowel injuries" capable of interfering with blood flow (diagnosed upon endoscopic examination). And a 2009 Australian study showed that aspirin causes gastroduodenal damage even at the low doses used for cardiovascular protection (80mg).

The damage to your duodenum—the highest part of your intestine into which your stomach contents pass—can result in duodenal ulcers, which are prone to bleeding. A Japanese study found a higher incidence of bleeding at the ulcer cites of patients with duodenal ulcers taking low-dose aspirin therapy, versus those not taking LDA. More than 10 percent of patients taking low-dose aspirin develop peptic ulcers.

The risk of bleeding is particularly pronounced in the elderly, which is very concerning as the elderly are often put on aspirin prophylactically to protect against cardiovascular disease. With all of these adverse effects, why risk it when there are safer and more effective alternatives?

There's more - here's the opinion of Shane Ellison, from the People's Chemist

Thousands of years ago, humans witnessed injured bears (not the Chicago Bears) gnawing on the bark of white willow trees. Some dude – probably an earlier rendition of The People’s Chemist – assumed that it was done to relieve pain.

After a long night of drinking away his frustrations with people who talk more than they think, he decided to test his theory. Hungover, the young chemist made a tea from the bark. It tasted like shit. But, almost instantly, his discomfort melted away.

Despite his gluttonous indulgence, the crushing pressure on his head was released. It was like cheating and winning. White willow bark became the official pain reliever not only for bears, but also for many other party-goers astute enough to follow his lead…

Hippocrates Shuns Food

Greek physician Hippocrates heard about white willow bark…This is same guy that nerdy nutritionists today quote as saying, "let food be your medicine and medicine be your food."

Well, thank God he started taking tips from chemists. Drugs are more fun than food and far more interesting. Eventually, the doctor put the real medicine to use, and it worked – drugs like white willow bark are much more reliable than an  apple when you need relief. It’s rumored that Hippocrates later said, "Chemists are awesome tutors and fun to party with."

As time past, Big Pharma got excited about the pain killer. This laid the groundwork for the eventual isolation and synthesis of a molecule known as salicylic acid – one of many ingredients found in white willow bark.

To their distress, the industry couldn’t market the natural ingredient as their own. (You can’t patent Mother Nature, yet.) In order to have a monopoly, they had to alter it a bit. Chemist Carl R. Gerhardt was the first to do so in 1853.

Bayer Steals From Mother Nature

Starting with the parent compound, Gerhardt performed a series of laboratory reactions. This yielded a molecular cousin. The newly devised willow bark-fake was named ASA (acetyl-salicylic acid). It marked one of the earliest and most profitable thefts from Mother Nature. Bayer trademarked it as "Aspirin" in 1889. Some say the name was derived from St. Aspirinius, a Neapolitan bishop who was the patron saint against headaches.

As aspirin popularity grew, the inherent risks surfaced. (So much for being a saint…) The small molecular change made for big dangers.

Why Aspirin is so Damn Risky

Like deflating a tire, aspirin depletes the body of life-saving nutrients. These include folic acid, iron, potassium, sodium and vitamin C. Symptoms associated with such depletion include: anemia, birth defects, heart disease, elevated homocysteine (a risk factor for heart disease), headache, depression, fatigue, hair loss, insomnia, diarrhea, shortness of breath, pale skin and suppression of the immune system.

Internal bleeding is one of the biggest risks. Studies show that aspirin users die sooner compared to those not taking it.


Body Count Increasing Among Aspirin Users

Each year, a grossly underestimated 7600 deaths and 76,000 hospitalizations occur in the United States from use of aspirin and other NSAIDS like Motrin, Aleve, and Celebrex. But, the FDA states that only about 10% of deaths caused by NSAIDS are reported.

Doctors aren’t willing to acknowledge aspirin as the deadly culprit. Death by the drug is usually attributed to the victim being either too damn sick or too damn old. Therefore, the body count is much higher than we are told.

In 1986, Dr. Otis R. Bowen, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, issued a warning reminding parents that children and teen-agers with flu symptoms "should not be given aspirin." Using it for the flu or Chicken Pox, aspirin puts users at risk for Reyes Syndrome, a disorder that causes organs to shut down, and large amounts of bloody, watery liquid to accumulate in the lungs.

In 2009, historian and researcher Dr. Karen Starko showed that mortality rates were increased during the 1918 flu epidemic due to aspirin use! At the time, massive amounts of the drug were purchased by the military and given to soldiers. The "always pharmaceutically compliant" Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggested a dose of 1,000 milligrams every three hours. That’s the equivalent of almost 25 standard 325-milligram aspirin tablets in 24 hours – twice the daily dosage generally considered safe today! Minus the overdose, it’s predicted that death rates wouldn’t have been so tragically high.

Identifying Aspirin Actions Gets Nobel Prize

It was pharmacologist John Vane who discovered the good and bad actions of aspirin. On one hand, he found that it blocks the production of an enzyme known as COX (cycloxygenase). Downstream, this prevents inflammation, swelling, pain and fever. But, he elucidated a risky trade off.

Aspirin also stifles the formation of healing compounds. Crucial for physiological support, they protect the stomach from damage by hydrochloric acid, maintain kidney function and stop internal bleeding. Vane won the Nobel Prize for his work.

Bayer wasn’t concerned about the findings…Or they ignored Nobel Prize winning science.

Expanding their market reach, they pushed "baby" aspirin to protect against heart attack and stroke. But, the "little bit" is still harmful. Writing for The New York Times, Dr. Neena S. Abraham said, "If your physician has suggested you take aspirin to reduce your risk of heart disease, it is important to remember that even small doses of daily aspirin — including "baby aspirin," at a dose of 81 milligrams daily — can increase your risk of ulcers and bleeding."

…buffered or enteric-coated aspirin won’t protect you.

Judith P. Kelly of the Slone Epidemiology Unit at the Boston University School of Medicine warned that "all forms of aspirin carry risk." Protective covering or not, it still paralyzes the production of physiologically-important compounds in our body.

Safe Alternatives

White willow bark doesn’t contain ASA or "aspirin." Therefore, it won’t accidentally kill you.


By: Shane Ellison, MS

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